Creativity and Ramblings from the heart of NYC and around the World

Monday, April 28, 2008

A MUST READ & I must now knit

Something those of you who have been reading my babble for years may or may not know about me... I lLOOOVE hardcover books. They just FEEEEL GOOOD in my hands. I travel the world often toting a hardcover book or two along. I read paperbacks when that's all that's available, but give me a good hard cover volume any day!
I don't understand how people can read books only on their PDAs/Pocket computers - no offense to those of you who can. If I got the same joy from that, there would be SO MUCH more space in my New York City apartment.

Yes, I love books and I keep them. I buy them and keep them. Which is good news for publishers, but not for space within my apartment. I blame it on my parents.

Why the topic of hardcover books?

While eating my breakfast at my desk in a factory in the remote suburbs of Dongguan, I just finished a truly funny book that I've carried with me around China.

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Some of you may know her from back in the early days of blogging when many of us followed along with her Project. Then the book was published and there is (slightly old) news of the book being optioned for a MOVIE with names like Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci being thrown around!! EXCITING!!!!

You can see a VidLit selection from the book here.

The premise...well if you'd read the blog you'd know now wouldn't you? But in case you didn't...

1 self proclaimed Government Drone living in a shitty loft apartment in Queens decides to make all 536 recipes in the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 by Julia Child. I have a copy of it. It's a legend in the cook book world...and quite an undertaking since she gave herself the deadline of a single year to complete it all. She wrote about the Project through out the year in her blog. Has a great sense of humour with a proclivity for dropping f*bombs to strike home the point and will leave you wanting more.

Buy the book.

Read the book.

It's damned funny.

It had me laughing out loud on the subways of New York City, while I waited for my turn in the chair for an unexpected root canal and in the Shanghai airport as I waited in the queues (as written about here.)

The funny thing about reading in public (RIP) as opposed to knitting in public (KIP). When I KIP I find people are intrigued and stare and wonder, often asking, "what are you making?" But when I RIP and dare to laugh out loud, which I do often when something strikes me as funny, people look at me as though I'm being rude. It's as though I'm laughing at a joke that they worry either concerns them or that they are missing. Hell with it. Let 'em think they're missing out...perhaps they are. They should go get the book and read it themselves. (Julie - is it printed in Chinese yet? The pages I've read to my team with the help of translation have had them laughing too!) But the book is done. This brought to the realization that I don't have another book with me.

What does this mean? This means my Adjusted Incan Pullover [tunic] is going to be worked on again. I'm about 1/3 of the way finished with it. You all know how much I love to knit...but a girl can only take so much plain old knitting. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I put in some short rows to allow it to fit nicely over my curves. That was fun. Now it's back to the plain knit. It's good to do in the movie theatre, on a plane or when watching TV...but can be boring when I'm looking for something mind fulfilling...even stripes would help. I know, I picked it. It will be very cute! I look forward to wearing it.

Cotton Millefili Fine by Lifatura Di Crosa (which slits a little when using 5s), in a beautiful orange with white accents. Oooh, it'll go so nicely with the white pique trousers that I'm having made.

I need a knitting afternoon with the girls. That would help me get along with it. Oh yah. I'm in China. Hmmm...maybe on May 1st? I'll be in HK and it's a holiday! Or the afternoon of May 2nd? Hong Kong Ladies? Are you free?

But that's neither here nor there for now. I've fascinators to design today. The days are ticking away. I can't believe May comes in a few days. This whole thing about having no assistant (qualified or other) due to budget cuts due to our lousy economy due to... *sigh*

It just sucks. Thankfully I'll have the aid of my friends' niece again for the actual photo shoot days. I absolutely need to have someone there to assist on those days since I'm acting as Design Director, Producer and Art Director.

Samples are all due in NYC in two weeks. Photo shoot process starts in 8 days.

I guess I'd better go finish designing the collection eh?

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tailor Made

Upon landing in Shenzen, Mag and driver Ho picked me up at the airport and we went for my second visit to this new-to-me tailor.
I'd had some trousers made on my last trip but they just weren't quite right.

To be fair, they were made and messengered up to me without time for a proper fitting. I have a very different shaped body than the locals in this region...they don't have curves...neither did my trousers.

So we went for both a fitting and to arrange some further items.

I was measured from top to bottom, side to side and all around.

Fingers crossed I'll have some fun things to wear on my trip to PR end of next month!!

The first picture taken was the one above with the tailor and the eldest daughter. Very soon the younger daughter raised a fit because she wanted her photo taken too!

I really like this photo with the girls. The youngest girl is really precosious.

Fingers crossed -- let's see how things fit at the end of this week!!!

Taking it Easy

This is hysterical to me. For the first time in YEARS I've planned this trip to China allowing it to move at a human pace rather than 18 hour days with 5 hours of sleep and commuting.

I'm in Shanghai being driven to the airport by my factory manager.
He speaks no English other than, "OK?" and "Please." Oh, and "Bye-bye", but that's what they say in Chinese too.
He took an alternate route after we're stuck in traffic...or rather. A U-turn into the opposite direction.
And, well...after 3 dead ends and 5 u-turns...I think he's now lost.

Oop- he just asked again which airport by repeating the airports name to me.

We drive, turn around.


Turn around. And suddenly, after appearing to have not been going in any certain direction...
We arrive! Shanghai Hongqiaio International Airport (or what's called the local airport.)

Pull up to drop-off, park in the yellow zone and he walks me in.

Ahhh. Crisp spring day. Just the right breeze. Perfect temperature. Flight time!

***Looking at the board***
***Looking at e-ticket***
***Looking at e-ticket & board with manager***

My flight isn't listed. This never means well.

***We're walking***

Customer Assistance counter #1.
I explain in English. Factory manager explains in Chinese. We are directed to Customer Assistance #2.

***We're walking***

Factory manager pushed through the random crowd to the front.

Finger pointing.
Paper writing.

I'm ushered to desks 67-74 for check-in.

Hand shake.
"Bye bye."
Factory manager is off - hopefully is car is OK still in that yellow zone.

Daunting line ahead of me. I am again reminded that there is no such thing as personal space in China. None. Something those who are coming to Beijing for the Olympics should keep in mind. People behind me are practically standing on my luggage as the line crawls along.
The British know how to queue. I've witnessed the Japanese do a nice queue. To totally generalize...the Chinese, at least those at this airport, in this line...they suck at queuing. It's less a queue and more a slowly moving mosh pit. I made the terrible error of stopping for half a moment to long to open my water and they began walking OVER me. Literally.
Somehow when you shout expletives at people and they don't understand anything but the tone of your voice as you pull their luggage off of your shoulder, somehow you don't quite get the same satisfaction.


***more crawling***

Ah-ha! I'm up! E-ticket. Passport as ID. Loading luggage up.

"No luggage." She says.

***deer in headlights look***

"No luggage?" I ask.

"No flight. No luggage."

She takes my e-ticket & passport and walks away. No words. No explanation.
5 minutes pass.
10 minutes pass.
I wait - as if there's another choice with this woman holding my passport in hand.
She returns. She keeps giving me these looks like I am putting her out and I should be ashamed of myself. Scribbling on a paper in Chinese of course--and not just in the spaces provided. I wonder what she's writing?
My flight was cancelled. From her pointing at the calendar, I think she means it was cancelled 3 days ago. That's nice.

I'm directed to another terminal. To another airline. To another flight.

Holding onto the Chinese paper like it's gold...
***I'm walking***

Leaving terminal B entering terminal A... FWAP!

A wall of heat. Of course. Terminal B isn't air conditioned. That's nice.

I see the desks she had sent me to. I queue. I wait. I'm smiling. My turn!

"We are not servicing this flight. Go to desks 1-10."

***I'm walking***

It's now that I stop to appreciate the value of good wheels on a suitcase.
Thank you Swiss Army for making my fabulous and easy to wheel orange suitcase.

***I'm still walking***

I see the desks she had sent me to ahead at the end of the terminal. I queue. I wait. I'm smiling. My turn!

The air at the desks is at least 15F degrees hotter with no air circulation. The staff is happy. Yah, that's it. I hand over the "Golden Paper" and e-ticket and passport. She first gives me this "you've GOT to be kidding me" look...which is followed by a series of looks like I am putting her out and I should be ashamed of myself. (Are they all taught this look?)

She sighs. Pokes around the keyboard then takes the paper, leaving my passport etc. there on the desk and walks away.

3 minutes pass and those in line behind me begin to get restless. One woman pops ahead, passing others and bangs her fist on the desk front ledge apparently demanding to know whether someone was coming back. It was then she noticed me standing there. One heck of an observation I might say since I'm the only Caucasian that I've seen in this entire terminal. I don't exactly blend. She sizes me up - I wonder what she's thinking. SHE gives me the look that I AM obviously putting her out. I smile. She sighs, throws her hands in the air and resumes her spot in line. That's nice. See Mom, I'm making friends.

Over 15 minutes later the counter lady returns with a boarding pass for me and allows my luggage to go through into the x-ray machine.

***We wait. ***

2 minutes. 4 minutes. 8 minutes.

I can SEE my passport with it's frosty new friend, the boarding pass, under her hand. She's grins for the first time as she apparently reads a text on her phone that's out of sight under the desk and replies. Stoic look returns to her face.

"Luggage failed x-ray. Please go there." Pointing I see my luggage being hoisted onto a table. I guess I should now tell you that although the WHEELS are good on this luggage, the main pouches zipper pulls had been made of tin foil and all broke off on it's first voyage. I unzip the front pocket and pull out a large bobby pin which I proceed to thread through the zipper pull base and unzip my suitcase. This, of course, brings on very odd looks by the security agent assigned to my bag. He's now watching me extra closely. I'm crafty. I can feel it. There are many other agents all carefully watching as well...because only my suitcase was being searched and they all had nothing else to do.

Over the years I've had my luggage searched dozens of times. Each time they open the suitcase gently poke around and close it, doing what I consider to be a half-assed exercise in time wasting. This fellow I must confess was a master at the luggage search. I have large rectangular inner bags that I pack everything in within my luggage so I can keep things tidy and organized as I got from hotel to hotel. Everything including clothes fit into these 4 bags. I began this last year and it's surely the way to go! He took each bag out, unzipped unloaded, touched, poked and repacked. Every item in my toiletries was opened and sniffed. Every compact, eyeshadow etc was opened and sniffed. (How does he know what is something that shouldn't be sniffed?)

I waited. I repacked the bag. He nods. I go back to the friendly counter to retrieve my passport, boarding pass and e-ticket and was on my sweaty way! Yippee!

***I'm walking***

Back to the start of the terminal for the ID and handy-carry luggage security check.

I queue. I wait. I'm smiling. My turn! Aces! Passport check A-OK!

Now for the x-ray of my hand-carry...
Computer, computer bag and purse.

My necklace goes off as I pass through -- which I know because they so thoroughly wanded me that for the second time this week I'm not sure if I should be grinning or if I was just violated.

I'm called over to the security desk where all staff is standing around my purse. Because, only my purse is being searched. Everything is removed. Every lotion is smelled. Every lipstick and lip balm too. I am allowed to return it all to my purse when I see that another table has my computer bag with a new group of folks standing around to observe this.

Everything is removed and opened. Computer wires uncoiled. At one point she takes the 3 black large Sharpies in her hand and removes all caps and smelled them all at once. She nearly fell over...and yes, I refrained from smiling or laughing. No, I'm not sure how.
The near empty bag run through the x-ray again. Aces! Reload the bag.

NOW I'm on my way! Still smiling.

Accept for the plane delay...but that's another story for another day.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

From Dani...If I've done it it's bolded.
If you want to do this, cut & paste and drop me a comment so I know where to look!

Life’s To Do List

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said ‘I love you’ and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger (and dated for a while)
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 10 provinces (Kimberli asks to whoever made this list...of where?"
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends (had? still have!)
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children.
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an illness that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane (does sitting in the flight deck count?)
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone’s life


Sunday, April 20, 2008

3 Boroughs in 3 days

Let's see. Karaoke in Queens. Home cooked Indian food and movie night in Brooklyn...what to do to fill up my last Sunday in NYC before I fly back to China again after my 10 day lay-over at home?

Broadway it is!

My girlfriend DJ came down from Connecticut bringing her fiancé, Jeff, along! This was a momentous occasion. DJ and I met in college doing theater. It was love at first site. She was as big of a smart-ass as I was. We ended up dating roommates - so it's a good thing we liked each other. Later we were to be roommates ourselves, otherwise known as no peace and quiet but a whole lot of fun!

Why was this visit so momentous you ask? This was to be Jeff's - first - EVER- show (Broadway or other.) Yippee!! We decided that Mama Mia would be a good first show. Music he'd know and a lively beat. And since they are to be married May 10th - it was none to soon!!

But wait, there's more! DJ called me a few days before hand to let me know the party was going to get bigger! She had a coworker coming in from Brazil and another would be coming with them from Connecticut! Add in my two friends and we had a party!

After a lovely breakfast at Henry's the first 5 of us headed down to Time's Square for a short walk-about before meeting Karthika and Radhika at the theatre. The show was fun as promised and everyone enjoyed it! There will be more shows for Jeff! Yippee!

What next? An early (for NYC) dinner! We hopped on the 50th street subway and rode down to 34th street. After a short walk south east we arrived in Koreatown!! I proudly brought them to my favorite Korean BBQ joint - Kang Suh. I'd tried calling in a reservation a few times but the line was always busy.

It. Was. CLOSED for RENOVATION! One of it's employees was out front and directed us across the street to Won Jo. After settling in and ordering the food began to arrive.

First the small dishes. Then the loading of the charcoal into the BBQ's in the center of the two tables.

Soon the meat and the fish were lain on the grills to sounds of sizzling and crackling as we all breathed in the wonderful smells.

What to eat first? The roasted then pickled hot peppers? The bamboo or sprouts? And what about the lettuce? Ssäm of course -- where you wrap up meats and rice and bits from the small dishes into a lettuce wrap and chow down.


There were chopsticks grabbing left and right. Sounds of mumbling, yummings, laughing and just pure enjoyment. Really a lovely way to spend a Sunday. Won Jo was tasty, although I think they need to give more grilled veggies, they were quite different in many ways to Kang Suh. Rain check.

Thanks all for joining me on my last weekend in NYC for a little while!!

Time to pack!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Home Cooking

Radhika was so kind to have Lisa, Allegra and I join she and her cousin for a homemade Indian meal. A wonderful lamb dish and a tasty califlower dish. pair that with her cousin's chocolate and the wine we all brought and it made for a lovely evening!

After dinner we sat down to watch a movie.
She'd Netflix'd Airplane -- It's been YEARS since I'd seen it!

Thanks for a lovely time and for inviting us out to Brooklyn to see your new furniture! So glad it finally arrived from Vietnam - and cleared customs!

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Queen's with the Queen!

Michelle (Queen of Karaoke) and Bill invited me out to Queen's for a night of Chinese food and karaoke. Bill was kind enough to pick me up at my house on his way through Manhattan (Thanks Bill!!) We drove straight to Queens to Michelle's house to pick her up.

A local spot that Bill has frequented for years and Michelle has gone to lately as well offers karaoke on Wednesday & Friday nights. It had been far too long since Michelle and I had done Karaoke and it was the first time I'd ever gone with Bill. Michelle's nieces joined us too (although they didn't sing - eham - Next time Ladies!!!)

Upon entering this Tiki laden restaurant I was transported back to my childhood and a similar restaurant in New Hampshire. It was the first time I'd seen a Pu-Pu platter on a menu since I was in college. Fun!!

There was a birthday party going on which filled a large part of the room. They looked like frequent fliers as many nodded to Bill as he walked us to our table.

We ordered up the food and sat back to enjoy the show. People of all ages took turns singing their hearts out, including us!!

After a lovely night, Bill dropped us off at Michelle's where I had my first, of what I hope to be many, Queen's slumber parties! Michelle, I'm looking forward to my next visit!!

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

What a great night!

After relaxing for the day, enjoying the company of the boys (who sat on my lap whenever I sat down) and wrapping up laundry and unpacking, I got all dolled up for my date. Testing out a New dress, thank you China, that I intend to wear to an island wedding later next month (gotta see if it's comfortable enough for all night dancing!) Hair curled. Make up done. Voila!

Hop a cab and zoom down to Central Park South to the Jumeirah Essex Hotel for dinner with Josh and the new South Gate restaurant. It's always fun to see Josh. Although we both live in NYC, we certainly don't get to see each other nearly enough.
It hit me when Joe visited last month that I've known Joe for over 20 years and Josh for just about 20 years. We all went to school together.
After having such fun at dinner and the opera last month, we decided to take in the last opera of the season (and the only other one I would be in town for) tonight. Candide at the New York City Opera, with this wonderful dinner before hand. Sadly the City Opera will be closed for renovation next year, although I've read they will be doing some things through out the season. Time will tell.

I've been waiting for the email from Troy, South Gate's sommelier, detailing out the menu and wines, but it's yet to come. So I'll write a brief description and fill in more later when I get the email. Oh -- and yes -- the camera is still set on the crappy setting as in the photos from last night's surprise party -- SORRY!!!

From my confirmation call straight through to their help hailing a cab the staff at South Gate was wonderful. They greeted my usual bubbliness with a warm smile and friendliness.

Josh and I were seated towards the back of the airy and spacious dining room. Wonderful decor (I love the swively chairs!!) by famed designer, Tony Chi. Our waitress was fantastic. Nice, helpful and funny. We decided upon the 6 course Chef's Tasting. Chef Heffernan and his staff did not disappoint. From the yellow tail to the ravioli soup to the short ribs - wow!

And...wait for it...TWO dessert courses!

We decided to go all out and have wine paired with each course...a very wise choice indeed. Their sommelier, Troy, was wonderful. He chose interesting and unique wines for us to try. I liked them all! The only bad part of the evening was having to slightly rush the tasting and dash to the opera. (Not that we didn't enjoy the opera too...) Next visit to South Gate I'll plan the evening around it instead of having a performance to attend.

We hopped a cab up to the New York State Theatre at Lincoln Center and were there in plenty of time to settle in for Candide. Keeping ones self awake through even the most fun opera after a 6 course wine-paired tasting is, I must admit, difficult. But doable! It helped that they had a wonderful cast -- Lauren Worsham, Daniel Reichard, Jessica Wright and Richard Kind. A fun show. I wish it wasn't the last of the season! With my traveling this spring I missed all too many of the operas. I think both Josh and I had really gotten in to the groove with this dinner and the opera thing.

From the opera we walked down to the Mandarin Oriental in the Time Warner building to have a drink at their bar. Being that Josh has been missing China, he wanted to go here for not only the view, but for a Tsing Tao beer. He'll be heading back to China a mere 2 weeks after I'm home from my next trip. Some how we've always missed each other on our trips to China.

So we sat in the bar of one of the most expensive hotels in NYC drinking $9 Chinese beers (that cost $0.75 in China), eating dim sum and enjoying the view.

What a welcome wonderful night. Now for sleep if jet-lag will let me have some.
Thankfully I think the beer will help.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008


One of the reasons that I came home these for 10 days between trips was to be at this surprise party for Emmanuel's 40th Birthday!
Jo and Karthika planned a wonderful party!

Let me apologize now for the awful photos! I'm still not sure what the setting was that I had my camera on - but these are the BEST of the aweful shots! There are a few good ones - then ???

We rented a room at Japas38 for sushi/drinks/karaoke. Guests rolled in around 7:45pm to decorate and settle in.

I forgot that I had that hat on and wore it almost all night. It wasn't until I was in the restroom and a girl wished me Happy Birthday that I looked in the mirror and saw it still on. Occupational hazard I guess.

Emmanuel and Jo arrived at 8pm. He walked in being shown the room by waitstaff and we all pounced!!!

But wait...There's MORE!!!
Jo had arranged the most lovely surprise!

Emmanuel has lived in NYC around 10 years (I think) and his brother, who still lives in Paris, had yet to be able to visit him. Jo arranged it as a surprise and JP arrived just after the initial surprise.

I don't think I've ever seen Emmanuel run so fast as to greet his brother at the door! Those are his hands out int he right side of the photo above (left.)

Many of us had met JP in Paris last spring at Jo and Emmanuel's wedding. It was good to see him again.

From there the party rolled for two hours of eating and singing and eating and drinking and singing. No complaints were made by anyone...what would there be to complain about?
When our two hours were up we parted ways with the birthday boy who was going home to his son and to spend time with his unexpected weekend house guest!

Those who were left moved on around the corner to the Gingerman for a few rounds of pints and laughs. What a great group of people. Thanks for a wonderful night all and HAPPY 40th Emmanuel!!!

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lunch break...Dinner break

With another rush of days in Asia under my belt, and 10 days home before I return, I have planned to make the most of these days home.

Hmmm...where to start on my first day back?

Lunch at Henry's with Juliet! Today was the most beautifully perfect spring day. What a wonderful Welcome HOME! A leisurely lunch al fresco at Henry's was the perfect idea.

For under $30 dollars you get a plate divided in quarters - four courses. Today's menu was a lovely soup, Caesar Salad, AWESOME Duck Ruben and Lemon Tart. (Beverages not included.)

Really, chatting with my friend and relaxing.
After an afternoon of unpacking and getting my bearings, I hopped onto the subway and dashed downtown to the Lower East Side to meet Allegra at Tsampa. An old favorite of our that we've been going to for years. The atmosphere is always calming and the food it tasty.
What a great day.
I feel like there's a chance I'll clear my head out of this fog soon!

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Tomb Sweeping Day

Today is Tomb Sweeping Day in Hong Kong and in China. It's a day for reflection and visiting your relatives at cemeteries. It's a day off. Except, I'm here to work, so I work with the company of a few folks who are also working in preparation of my bosses arrival tonight and meetings starting tomorrow.

But...Since it IS a holiday, I thought it would be nice to do something different.

I thought that the apartment they have been rebuilding (termites) was likely to be ready this trip, so I packed up a Ziploc bag with oatmeal, a box of brown sugar and a bag of sliced almonds. I know Mag had been concerned as to what I'd do for breakfast were I not staying at the hotel, so I brought provisions just in case. But, alas, the apartment isn't quite ready (working out some kinks) and thus the oatmeal etc. was just sitting in my suitcase.

What's a girl to do? Make breakfast for Mag and Tony! Fu was interested to try oatmeal as were Asau and Jessie, so we were 6. I started to prepare the toasted almonds in a pot on an electric burner in the showroom...but YIKES -- it heats up to a ZILLION degrees in a snap and burned some of them. It was then we realized this just would not work...this electric stove had two settings Stinkin' Hot or Burn-the-House-Down hot (they have only used it to heat up soups - no wonder!) On to plan B! Mag and Tony have an apartment right here on the factory fact, it's located over the apartment they are renovating...which is looking GORGEOUS by the way!! Yeeeah!

Put things in bags...walk - walk - walk (2 minutes at most) and VOILA!

Mag's Kitchen awaits (photo right)!!! Fu (below) was excited to be a guest and I had to keep kicking her OUT of the kitchen in order for her not to work right along. I kept telling her, "it's your day OFF. You can have this kitchen back TOMORROW!" She would giggle and sit down. When I got to the cooking part (after setting up the coffee etc.), she came in to watch what I was doing, having never seen oatmeal cooked in anything but the cookies we'd begun to make last year. She's been making some WONDERFUL cookies ever since too! Yumm...

Anyway, Mag had donated some dried cranberries to the meal which I also threw into the pot. Yumm!

Interestingly enough, after coming here for 9 years, this was my first time in Mag & Tony's apartment. Tony put on some Pasty Kline and Elvis (Mag's favorite) and we cooked away. The apartment is quite large and lovely with a big picture window over looking the yard and outer garden from the dining area and a lovely window over the sink filling the kitchen with light.

I miss having a window in my kitchen.

Breakfast was quick to whip up once we were settled in and before I knew it, we were seated eating and there was silence apart from the yummy noises being made. Mag kept say, "This is soooo good." Tony commented that it was, "So much better than instant!"

Fu didn't say anything but a big smile as she didn't stop to talk, but cleaned the bowl to the bottom. Asau (right) had been running late and arrived hungry to feed two. (She's almost 6 months pregnant!) She too ate it all up.
The texture of rolled oats is very different to anything that is cooked for breakfast (traditionally speaking) here. And adding nuts and dried fruit is a totally new idea. Tossing in a little bit of brown sugar to the mix sweetening it a tiny bit is a nice surprise too. Very different from the mushy tasteless Chinese congee that both Mag and I agree is quite icky.
Cleaned up and ready to go we began the quick walk back to the office when we passed Jessie who was going up to Mag's for the final bowl. She too liked it very much and packages a little up to take to her daughter to see if she might like it too.
Oatmeal. Who knew?

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Another Year, Another Change

Ahhh China.

It can be emotional to visit a place that has so many diverse memories. For me, this stop in my travels carries more than most. Mostly good, some great...and a few heartbreaking.

I've shown my parents and loved ones my world here. I've also, over the years, had relationships ended while here, including the most recent.

Looking around my office I still can't help but see M sitting here trimming her hat for Kirsten (her American Girl doll). That was such a good day -- amazing that it was but a mere year ago.

The wheel rolls on. We strive to strike a balance. These days I'm still on the lower part of that see-saw. Keeping very busy when home. Adjusting my plans for the future. Trying to pick up the pieces. Trying to figure out how to be single again...just an I rather than a we. It takes longer at this age than you might think. Being in China, without my team of able-bodied diners, dancers, opera and movie goers...nor time to do these things, I'm left with all too much time on my hands to think. (Sometimes too much thought isn't healthy.)

I have no regrets though. These experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today (which if I do say so is not half bad at all.)

I would have liked the chance to have a final chat, preferably a face-to-face, with M to tell her just how much I've grown to love and adore her over these last two years. What a wonderful and special friend she was to me and just how much I'll miss our time and adventures together. I hope she knows she can always call on me should she need anything.

Who knows...perhaps when she gets older, she'll run across this post and read it all for herself. Grand things lay ahead in her future, I just know it.